Chuck Fox, Hamilton resident and owner of the Hamilton Movie Theater, is determined to provide bikes to those who need them. Fox has created a program called “Community Bikes,” which aims to collect used, old and broken bicycles from the surrounding area. Volunteers from the Hamilton community and Colgate, including members of the fraternity Phi Delta Theta (Phi Delta) spend time repairing each of the bikes. The newly restored bikes are then placed into the hands of those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a bicycle. In the past two years, over 500 bicycles have been collected, repaired and donated to families in the area.
“I was surprised to find out that a lot of families and adults do not have cars or licenses. They have to get to places on their bikes,” Fox said. “This is life saving for a lot of people.”
The repairs and volunteer-time for each bike is equivalent to about $25, and the value of the finished product is around $100. In addition to the bike itself, helmets, bike stands and other gear are also collected and redistributed to the surrounding community. At first, the bicycles were stored in the basement below the Barge. As more bikes accumulated, Fox needed a bigger space. He now keeps the donated bikes in a large garage in Hamilton. However, Fox wants to expand “Community Bikes” beyond the Hamilton area.
“We want to provide bikes to our community, but also globally,” Fox said. For this reason, he asked alumna Kathryn Bertine to join his mission. During her time at Colgate, Bertine was a figure skater and a member of the rowing team. After Bertine graduated from Colgate in 1997, she became an elite triathlete. By 2006, she was approached by ESPN with an offer. ESPN would agree to sponsor Bertine in whichever sport she chose, as long as she qualified for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Bertine spent time researching Olympic sports and finally decided she would try to qualify for cycling, her strongest event in the triathlon. She had 18 months to train and find a country to represent. After several months, she attained dual citizenship to Saint Kitts and Nevis, but by this time, it was too late for Bertine to compete in the 2008 Olympics. While ESPN withdrew its sponsorship, Bertine was still determined to make it to the 2012 Olympics in London. Bertine also had a new goal. She wanted to help create a Cycling Federation in St. Kitts and Nevis in return for the support the country had given her to pursue her Olympic dream. This past June, Bertine released her new book, As Good As Gold, detailing her experience as an elite athlete and her dream to reach the Olympics.
“While Kathryn’s goal was to help build the Cycling Federation, my goal was to provide bikes to those who need them but can’t afford them,” Fox said. Together, Fox and Bertine thought of ways that their two goals could merge. While the idea is still in its infant stages, Fox hopes to partner with Bertine’s contacts in Saint Kitts and Nevis to distribute bikes to those in need. Fox is aiming to get 100 bikes and helmets, with Bertine’s help, to families in the Caribbean. “The goal is to match a bike with a need,” Fox said.
Bertine is excited about the future of “Community Bikes.”
“Volunteering a little bit of time to help an organization grow can yield incredible results. One of the great things about the Colgate spirit, as an undergraduate and graduate 13 years out of college, people are still incredibly generous in terms of donations and getting the word out when it comes to something that betters our community,” Bertine said. “We can really make a huge different with very small steps.”
“I think Chuck is doing something that is so wonderful. It’s not just about Hamilton and Colgate. It reaches into Madison County, as well as beyond. It can reach worldwide, and it is wonderful that we have someone like Chuck putting it all together,” Bertine said.